A raging fire in a Honolulu high-rise that authorities say had no sprinklers left three dead, 12 injured, and sent hundreds fleeing as smoke billowed from the upper floors, the AP reports. The dead were found on the 26th floor, where the fire broke out around 2:15pm and then spread to the 28th floor of the Marco Polo residences, says Fire Chief Manuel Neves. Firefighters were searching the damaged areas to make sure no additional people perished. The 36-floor building near Waikiki was built in 1971, before sprinklers were required. "Without a doubt if there were sprinklers in this apartment, the fire would be contained to the unit of origin," Neves says. Four of the injured, including a firefighter, were hospitalized in serious condition.
Karen Hastings, 71, was in her 31st-floor apartment when she smelled smoke, ran on to her balcony, and looked down to see flames below her. Windows blew out and then, she says, "the fire just blew up and went flying right out the windows. And that was like a horror movie.” As she and a neighbor ran through the haze down 14 floors until they found a safe stairwell to get some air, Hastings saw someone lying on a ledge, "and I don't know whether he made it.” The blaze was mostly confined to a single section of the vast, wave-shaped building, and only the units immediately above it and to the side of it were evacuated, while many residents stayed inside. (Read more fire stories.)